The Twelve South BookArc Flex is a super-stylish MacBook stand — it’s just a shame it’s not as stable as it is slick

Super-stylish, but super shaky, too.

BookArc Flex MacBook stand from Twelve South on a desk
(Image: © Gerald Lynch / Future)

iMore Verdict

The Twelve South BookArc Flex’s innovative set-up-free design makes it easy to accommodate almost any laptop as soon as you take it out of the box. But it’s not stable enough for me to trust it with my MacBook unattended.

Pros

  • +

    Easy to use

  • +

    Near-universal laptop support

  • +

    Looks great

Cons

  • -

    Just isn’t reliably stable

  • -

    Expensive, given the stability issues

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Twelve South has been making MacBook accessories for almost as long as MacBooks have been a thing. Pairing a design sensibility that mirrors Apple’s own aesthetic with accessories that Apple doesn’t cater for itself, Twelve South has rightfully become one of the go-to brands when it comes to accessorizing around your Apple products.

BookArc Flex MacBook stand from Twelve South on a desk

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

So it was with excitement that I sat the new Twelve South BookArc Flex down on my desk — a revamped version of one of the brand’s best-known MacBook stands. It certainly looks the part, with a striped-back design that Apple itself would be proud of.

It’s a shame then that I just can’t trust it to keep my MacBook upright.

Price and availability

The Twelve South BookArc Flex is available now, priced at $49.99. That’s a fair enough price for a stand flexible enough to house even the laptops of the future. But it’s hard to recommend because of stability issues I’ll detail below.

What I love

It’s a great idea in theory, a product aimed squarely at users rarely catered specifically for — the BookArc Flex is designed to house a laptop while it’s closed and ready to be used in clamshell mode with an external monitor, as so many of us do with our MacBooks when we bring them back to our desks. It’s a space-saving use case — and stand — that maximizes the real estate at your desk for those who don’t need a dual-screen set-up.

BookArc Flex MacBook stand from Twelve South on a desk

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

To do this, it uses what Twelve South calls a ‘saddle’ system. Two arcing arms (as the name suggests) come together to hold your laptop in place, clamping your MacBook thanks to that connective saddle which uses the downward-pushing weight of your machine, when placed on that saddle, to pull the arms tightly together.

The underlying idea is clever, an exercise in simple physics that means you don’t have to adjust the stand to accommodate a whole host of different laptops, not just Apple’s own devices. Provided your laptop is no thicker than an inch, with a screen size no bigger than 16 inches, it should fit just fine.

It’s a looker too. Measuring just 2.2 inches tall by 8.43 inches long and 3.6 inches deep, and weighing just about half a pound, it won’t take up too much space on your desk and looks cool in the process. With chrome, white, or black finishes available, it should easily sit alongside most desk aesthetics. 

But I just could never build up my trust in its stability.

What I don’t love

Here’s the thing — I just don’t think the stand is stable enough to trust leaving my MacBook in it. 

There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, you have to place your MacBook into that saddle perfectly straight. Should it sit at a slight angle, it’ll lean and topple over, with the saddle system unable to appropriately clamp the laptop. Secondly, even when a laptop is placed at exactly the right angle, that clamping force doesn’t grip tightly enough to prevent the laptop from leaning should your desk get knocked and wobble —  and with the stand itself lightweight, the weight of your laptop will likely pull the whole thing over. I used the BookArc Flex with both a 13-inch M2 MacBook Air and a 16-inch Touch Bar-era MacBook Pro, and both ended up toppling over at least once while using the stand.

If the BookArc Flex was a little heavier, its saddle able to drop a little deeper, and its arcing poles curving a little higher up your laptop’s frame, it may have proved a little more stable. But I was never convinced it would hold steady.

In its defense, Twelve South on its own website says to “use common sense” with the BookArc Flex. “If your office is in a bumpy construction zone, or you have cats walking all over your desk and they have knocked down items before, you might want an entirely different style stand.” But I felt uncomfortable with its stability just at home, with no one else around — and certainly no cats or building-rocking construction work to worry about.

Competition

If you’re after one of the best MacBook stands you’ve got plenty of better options than the BookArc Flex, in my opinion. 

For starters, I’d happily recommend Twelve South’s own Curve Flex stand — it’s a bit more expensive at an RRP of $79.99, but it's far more stable, and folds down to a compact size for taking on the go, too.

Lululook 360 Rotating Foldable Laptop Stand on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

My personal favorite though is the Lululook 360 Rotating Foldable Laptop Stand. It’s a bit chunkier thanks to its wide aluminum plate, but sits on a very sturdy arm, and a rotatable base that makes angling your screen just right very easy. It even folds down flat for transport and storage. It costs $89.99, so quite a bit more expensive, but much more reliable, too.

Should you buy it?

You should buy this if…

  • You're looking specifically for an upright, clamshell laptop stand
  • Desk space is at a premium
  • Design is more important to you than stability

You shouldn’t buy this if…

  • You don't want your MacBook to fall over
  • You want to use your laptop with the screen on

Verdict

There’s something to the BookArc Flex design that I do really appreciate. It’s a smart idea, and it looks great. But it just isn’t quite stable enough for my liking. This revision of the BookArc Flex has promise  — I’m quietly hoping a revamped model will answer my gripes in the future  — but unless you like to live dangerously, for now I’d say pass.


Gerald Lynch
Editor in Chief

Gerald Lynch is the Editor-in-Chief of iMore, keeping careful watch over the site's editorial output and commercial campaigns, ensuring iMore delivers the in-depth, accurate and timely Apple content its readership deservedly expects. You'll never see him without his iPad Pro, and he loves gaming sessions with his buddies via Apple Arcade on his iPhone 15 Pro, but don't expect him to play with you at home unless your Apple TV is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. 


Living in London in the UK, Gerald was previously Editor of Gizmodo UK, and Executive Editor of TechRadar, and has covered international trade shows including Apple's WWDC, MWC, CES and IFA. If it has an acronym and an app, he's probably been there, on the front lines reporting on the latest tech innovations. Gerald is also a contributing tech pundit for BBC Radio and has written for various other publications, including T3 magazine, GamesRadar, Space.com, Real Homes, MacFormat, music bible DIY, Tech Digest, TopTenReviews, Mirror.co.uk, Brandish, Kotaku, Shiny Shiny and Lifehacker. Gerald is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press, and also holds a Guinness world record on Tetris. For real.